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August 1962

Fear of Vocational SuccessA Phobic Extension of the Paranoid Reaction

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1962;7(2):82-92. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1962.01720020006002

The fear of success in various areas of behavior, both sexual and nonsexual, was attributed by Freud1 to the guilt associated with the Oedipus complex. More recently, Schuster2 reviewed the Freudian thesis and reached the same conclusion. Success in the patients he described, all of whom were men, unconsciously implied retaliation and punishment by the father. Hence, it was the ever-present threat of castration that forced these patients to abandon their aspirations. In this paper, I have singled out for discussion the fear of vocational success, an especially common phobic syndrome in our society. This particular form of the "success neurosis," where the patient is unable to tolerate vocational achievement, is often referred to by psychiatrists as the "success phobia." It occurs in patients of both sexes, but is seen with far greater frequency in men because they are more subject to the competitive pressures

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